Global Poker Index (GPI) CEO Alex Dreyfus has made it his mission to “sportify” poker by offering the kinds of events that fans of other sports expect to see on a regular basis.
That began with the Global Poker Masters, a “world cup” style competition that pit teams of top professionals from various nations against each other last month.
Now, Dreyfus is ready to start talking about the biggest step he wants to take towards that goal: the launch of the Global Poker League.
Dreyfus first talked about the Global Poker League (GPL) last fall, though at the time, he didn’t have much in the way of details. The broad strokes, however, were there: it would operate in a similar fashion to how other individual sports put together team competitions.
“Poker is an individual sport, such as tennis or golf,” Dreyfus said to PokerNews at the time. “So, if tennis has the Davis Cup and gold has the Ryder Cup, why shouldn’t we have our own poker league?”
Other Poker Leagues Have Failed, But Team Format is New
The idea of an elite poker league that would pit poker’s limit number of star players against each other more directly on a regular basis isn’t new. It was tried once as the Professional Poker Tour, and then again more recently in the Epic Poker League.
Both of those efforts failed rather quickly. But Dreyfus believes that he and the GPI have the tools to make this project succeed where others have failed.
According to Dreyfus, he now believes that the GPL could start up as soon as August or September. He envisions a 10-week season, one that would feature eight teams of seven players each.
The league would begin with a draft that would take place around the time of the (WSOP)World Series of Poker, with various players becoming part of the draft pool by their placement in the GPI rankings, qualifier events, or through wildcard invitations.
League Would Provide Exposure for Potential Star Players
Dreyfus hopes that such a format could invite more media attention to poker on a regular basis, and make even bigger stars out of the top players.
“We, the GPI, want to ‘sportify’ poker,” Dreyfus told PokerNews in a recent interview. “This does not mean that we want to make poker a sport, but that we want to use the same logic that runs behind the sports industry to promote poker.”
Dreyfus said that many of poker’s top players have limited fan bases because their success has come primarily in the online world. A competition like the GPI could help these players get significant exposure playing against more established stars.
Of course, there’s also the question of money for any project like this one. The GPI won’t charge players to participate in events; rather, league fees will come from team owners, and Dreyfus hopes (especially after the first few seasons) that this will be joined by significant money from sponsors. The GPI is also planning on investing as much as $5 million into the league.
Right now, Dreyfus says that four league owners are on board, and he applauded them for taking a risk on what might be an outlandish poker venture.
“It is a ballsy move for each team owner, obviously, but GPI and myself have a track record over the last 10 years in poker and 18 years in the internet industry to support this ambition,” Dreyfus told pokerfuse.
“We actually have full support from the industry, from poker media, poker tours and most important poker players.”